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Best Power Meter 2020 Cycling Recommendation Top 10 Review | Comparison

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Best Power Meter

“What is the Best Power Meter?” you ask. The clear winner of The Best Power Meter is…

It Depends

Image source: powermetercity

There is no single best power meter for everybody.

There are now many options, some of which may be suitable for the precise need you have. You might have a need based on a certain kind of bike; a certain price range; a certain level of required accuracy; a certain bike-related sport; and so on.

I’ll cover the main kinds of need as I see them, hopefully, that will match your personal circumstances and, if not, at least you will be pointed in the right direction for further research or, perhaps, I will confirm your suspicions. Then there are Eu/UK/USA links to 3 leading power meter resellers where you can compare prices  (wiggle.com and powermetercity.com).

BACKGROUND

Once an expensive add-on for highly serious cyclists, the power meter has now gone mainstream with many affordable options.

Whilst someone new to cycling might well have heard of Giant or Trek or Specialized as bike manufacturers, it’s unlikely they will have heard of Powertap or Favero or SRM. Generally, power meter manufacturers are specialist companies, although that is gradually changing with, for example, Garmin getting in the game a few years ago.

CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS

The market for bike power meters is growing with new products and new entrants emerging regularly. These themes are also emerging:

ASSIOMA & Vector

FUTURE OF THE BEST POWER METER

More and more of you will buy a power meter. Many of you will buy more than one. Sales growth will continue.

There are now running power meters (STRYD and others).

In terms of the bike side of the power meter market, we will see yet more new entrants. For example, Specialized entered the market in 2018 and Shimano are also a recent entrant, possibly with a revised 2020 model. I don’t think we will see too many more novel, technical solutions and I believe we will also see continuing downward pressure on prices below 2017 levels.

The Best Power Meter for Who?

Josh at powermetercity.com and Bob at cyclepowermeters.com cogitated over their ‘Best Power Meter‘ lists and made their recommendations. I took the best of their knowledge and combined it with my own to produce these recommendations. Three people’s views must be better than one?

Just to be clear the recommendations below are mine. I may well have ignored the far more intelligent advice proffered by Josh or Bob. I’ll take the blame 😉

On A Budget – WatTeam PowerBeat (single)

WatTeam have stopped trading

Alternative: ‘conventional, budget solution’:  4iiii 105’s or Stages G3 105’s these should come in below $/£/Eu400.

 

Don’t be afraid of single-sided power. You can spend some time researching dual-sided solutions and problems exist there with accuracy too. A single-sided PM is a good solution as a first foray into power and 4iiii and Stages will give you a good, consistent product which you WILL be able to benefit from. Changing a crank from bike to bike is probably about as easy as swapping over two pedals.

ESSENTIAL READING: Stages G3 Review

Cheaper ‘novel’ alternatives exist: Consider PowerPod (ANT+/BLE) or Powertap Powercal

Support through these partners – 10% off most purchases with code the5krunner10 at powermetercity.com, up to 17% off at wiggle for member and normally 10% off with REI members

 

Multi-Bike Owner – Favero ASSIOMA (duo)

Alternative: PowerTap P1 or Garmin Vector 3

Think of the words ‘universality’ or ‘swapability’ and pedals become the solution. The ASSIOMA wins on price and the 50-hour battery life of its rechargeable battery is not an issue for me. Garmin’s Vector 3 is a comparable format now that the pods have gone from the Vector 2 but some might say the PowerTap P2s are a little on the large and heavy side. Q1.Q2.2018 are seeing issues with Vector 3.

 

PRICE GUIDE: $519 or £449 less 10% with code the5krunner10

Favero ASSIOMA Duo
Support through these partners – 10% off most purchases with code the5krunner10 at powermetercity.com, up to 17% off at wiggle for member and normally 10% off with REI members

Power Meter Newbie – STAGES Dual

Alternative: 4iiii Crank (single sided) or ASSIOMA Pedal (single sided)

You want a competent solution without risking too much on the price front. The many Power Meter Newbies that came before you seemed to mostly buy Stages or Assioma/bePRO. Take the path well-trodden and do the same but also consider 4iiii on your cranks.

Also, consider that Stages are linked to Team SKY and that association may have swayed some people more than the technology warranted.

PRICE GUIDE: from $400 (sale) or £449 less 10% with code “the5krunner10”

Image source: stagescycling.com

Support through these partners – 10% off most purchases with code the5krunner10 at powermetercity.com, up to 17% off at wiggle for member and normally 10% off with REI members
Best REI/Wiggle/PMC price is linked to. Over $/£/Eu500 .


Accuracy Seeker – PowerTap

Alternative: Quarq, and maybe SRM, Verve Infocrank or Pioneer Power but surely not Garmin?

“..current power meters used by elite and recreational cyclists vary considerably in their trueness; precision is generally high but differs between manufacturers. Calibrating and adjusting the trueness of every power meter against a first principle-based reference is advised for accurate measurements.” Source: Maier et Al.

Also, consider drivetrain losses which could be 2%. If you do then you may well settle on the PowerTap hub for accuracy. That seems to be what Alphamantis (bought by Garmin) did for their aero testing services.

Also, consider that Garmin’s Vector 3 claims +/-1% accuracy – higher than the claimed accuracy of either the Powertap G3 or P1 (+/-1.5%). That’s either inconvenient for our power meter accuracy beliefs … or wrong. April 2018 saw a firmware update for Favero’s ASSIOMA which now also delivers a claimed accuracy of +/-1%

Then we come on to crank-based power meters, where the right-side can introduce notable inaccuracies for certain designs. These inaccuracies can be ‘estimated out’ with fudge factors. I like fudge but perhaps not on my bike.

The Verve Infocrank also deserves a special mention. It was built from the ground up as a power measuring device.

2017-18 PRICE GUIDE: hubs from $499 or £599 less 10% with code “the5krunner10”

Verve InfoCrank 24mm Power Meter – Image Source: Power Meter City
Support through these partners – 10% off most purchases with code the5krunner10 at powermetercity.com, up to 17% off at wiggle for member and normally 10% off with REI members

Mountain Biker  – SRM 2x, 3x

 

Alternatives: 1x Quarq, 2x/3x – Stages, 4iiii or INPower REX

SRM is probably the Best Power Meter option for 2x and 3x setups but they are expensive.

Consider that potentially higher torques in MTB riding might not favour single-sided solutions. But, as you probably already know, your choice is somewhat limited by a relative lack of competing products in the MTB space.

PRICE GUIDE: SRAM X01 from $1400 less 10% with code the5krunner10 & 4iiii Precision Shimano XT M800  from £469 less 10% with code the5krunner10

Support through these partners – 10% off most purchases with code the5krunner10 at powermetercity.com, up to 17% off at wiggle for member and normally 10% off with REI members

Multi-Location Buyer – PowerTap

You want to use different kinds of power meter locations and want the results to be comparable. I would say it was a reasonable assumption that products coming out of PowerTap’s testing labs will have been built to similar tolerances.

Go for PowerTap’s hub, chainring and pedal solutions.

2017-18 PRICE GUIDE: hubs from $499 & £599 less 10% with code “the5krunner10”

Ah I loved the ULTREMO ZX, image source cyclepowermeters.com
Support through these partners – 10% off most purchases with code the5krunner10 at powermetercity.com, up to 17% off at wiggle for member and normally 10% off with REI members

Elliptical / Oval Chainring Owner – PowerTap P1

Alternatives: ROTOR 2INpower or a hub-based solution or Favero ASSIOMA

Your sister’s Garmin Vector 3s or your mate’s STAGES cranks will give incorrect readings with oval (elliptical) chainrings. The P1’s more frequent measurements and algorithms make them more accurate with elliptical chainrings. Of course, if you measured the power elsewhere, such as the hub, then you won’t have the elliptical chainring problem.

Also of note is that April’s new firmware from Favero for their ASSIOMA pedals now supports a different measurement algorithm that supports elliptical chainrings.

I like ROTOR’s 2INpower solution too.

2017-18 PRICE GUIDE: P1s from $599 & £550 less 10% with code “the5krunner10”

Support through these partners – 10% off most purchases with code the5krunner10 at powermetercity.com, up to 17% off at wiggle for member and normally 10% off with REI members
The best REI/Wiggle/PMC price is linked to. $/Eu/£530 and will fall further.

 

Time Trialist – Quarq

Alternative: Anything dual-sided and crank-based such as the 4iiii Precision Dual

Accuracy, precision, repeatability are key. You will probably be buying another Quarq to go with the one you already have on your other TT bike. This one will not be swapped between bikes either. You like the self-calibration offered by the Qalvin app.

PRICE GUIDE: 4iiii for Shimano 105 5800 from $399 less 10% with code the5krunner10 & Quarq DZero spider from £575. Remember that 4iiii’s stated accuracy is +/- 1%

Image Source: Quarq.com
Support through these partners – 10% off most purchases with code the5krunner10 at powermetercity.com, up to 17% off at wiggle for member and normally 10% off with REI members

The De-Risker – Garmin Vector 3

Alternatives: SRM and Stages are the only alternatives who also have their own head units.  

If all your products come from the same manufacturer then the manufacturer cannot blame anyone else (other than you) when things stop working. As you own a lot of their other products you are more likely to get better treatment. Peripheral metrics like ‘Platform Centre Offset‘ will also work for you!

 

 

Vector 3 loses the annoying pod from the previous version, PRICE GUIDE: Vector 3s from $599 with 10% store credit with code the5krunner10 & Vector 3s from £499
Support through these partners – 10% off most purchases with code the5krunner10 at powermetercity.com, up to 17% off at wiggle for member and normally 10% off with REI members

The DIY-Avoider – Favero ASSIOMA

Alternative: hub-based solution

You change the ASSIOMA as easily as you would any other pedal. It is that simple. ASSIOMA comes with a rather large hex wrench (Allen key) and you do it up ‘fairly tightly’. You’re good-to-go. Even you can do that 😉

The same can be said of the PowerTap P1 and Garmin Vector 3..but the ASSIOMA is cheaper with no other downside.

You could probably swap out a wheel easily enough as well. Either that or you get a lift home whenever you get a flat tire/tyre, which I suspect is unlikely. However, we both know that you aren’t going to take off the cranks yourself despite being told it’s usually really easy. Go forth and buy a pedal solution.

PRICE GUIDE: $519 & £449 less 10% with code “the5krunner10”

Favero Assioma Duo –   VERY detailed review
Support through these partners – 10% off most purchases with code the5krunner10 at powermetercity.com, up to 17% off at wiggle for member and normally 10% off with REI members

Commuter – PowerPod

Alternative: Powertap Powercal

For this Best Power Meter category, I’m envisaging a commuter who also trains and sees commuting as a great way of putting the miles in. Perhaps accuracy is not at all important and the ride to work is just a case of recording the (approximate) watts as you draft behind vehicles and regularly change riding position. You use the power you recorded as an input to training load calculations.

Perhaps also there is a risk of any visible power meter attracting unwanted attention from thieves. The PowerPod would meet this scenario as it is EVEN easier to remove than your rear wheel or pedals…it’s unscrewing one bolt. If the PowerPod gets stolen it’s cheap(ish) to replace.

For the STRAVA segment hunters amongst you commuters then more accuracy might be important. Most single-sided cranks should be good for your purposes and you can use some sort of abrasive paper (emery) to de-badge & disguise the crank.

ESSENTIAL READING: Velocomp PowerPod Review

PRICE GUIDE: $299 less 10% with code the5krunner10

Velocomp PowerPod ANT+ / BLE Version
Best REI/Wiggle/PMC price is linked to. Over $320/£250/Eu300 and will fall periodically.
Support through these partners – 10% off most purchases with code the5krunner10 at powermetercity.com, up to 17% off at wiggle for member and normally 10% off with REI members

On An Indoor Trainer

WAHOO KICKR3

Your regular power meter will most likely also work if you put your bike on a cheap indoor trainer that just applies resistance to your back wheel.

I use a Wahoo KICKR (review) but you don’t have to go to that expense AT ALL for your winter of power training. Smart trainers like the KICKR are pretty cool and have lots of ‘extra’ features. If you have £/$/Eu1000 to blow then go for it.

But if you don’t…

With an ANT+ dongle and a bit of research with Mr Google, you could quite easily find an indoor power solution for the winter for about $/Eu/£10.

The next cheapest approach is to buy ‘any old non-smart resistance trainer’ but then use power meter pedals or cranks. the advantage also being that the same power meter can be used outside too. #DataConsistency.

 

Support through these partners – 10% off most purchases with code the5krunner10 at powermetercity.com, up to 17% off at wiggle for member and normally 10% off with REI members

SMART Trainer code for 10% discount – “the5krunner10” (selected models)

The Best Power Meter Pedals

I didn’t want to include a product type but many people are going for the pedal option and this separate post looks in much more detail at the best power meter pedals. Pedals are pretty accurate now and easily switched between bikes (although switching a crankset is potentially nearly equally as easy)

Obvious Choices Best Power Meter Pedals | Compare Garmin Favero

The Best Power Meter For Me

Me?

I compete in Age Group Duathlons and Triathlons to a reasonable level and an occasionally good level at some point in the dim and distant past. I have lots of aero kit to help me pretend that I can do TTs as well as real cyclists (I can’t). I love my weekend cycling as much as anyone else, except when I am staring at some ‘young gun’ flying off up a very steep hill.

Total power or dual power is best for me as I have an asymmetry and I also look for a reasonable-to-good level of accuracy & consistency

I don’t like wasting hours of my life tinkering at bike mechanics. I want to swap my main power meter regularly across 3 bikes and so I use Favero Assioma Duo to collect ALL my data for me. I have ZERO issues with them. Even with the previous Favero bePRO, I had very, very few issues over a couple of years other than the slight faff of changing bikes. The ASSIOMAs are more than accurate enough and for me (stated accuracy 1%), as were the bePROs that came before them. My next purchase will be a PowerTap G3-based rear wheel of some sort. That’s me. Now you know.

I use other, varied kit to collect data for ‘the5krunner.com’. The5krunner, unfortunately, needs N+1 bikes and Y+1 power meters.

Note: (Y>N)=PITA.

 

ESSENTIAL READING: Best Cycling Watch & Best Cycling Computer

Best Bike Computer 2020|Top 10 Recommend Cycling

Issues – aka Things to Worry About

Just when you had made your mind up these spanners are thrown into the works:

 

ROTOR INPOWER 3D+ Battery

Best Power Meter – RECOMMENDATION

For 80% of cyclists I just can’t see any reason why you would not buy the Favero ASSIOMA power meter pedal solution. It really is a no-brainer…IF you can afford it.

If you cannot afford the ASSIOMA DUO then the next sensible option would be a single-sided ASSIOMA. Then below that would be a crank-based system from STAGES or 4iiii.

If that’s still too expensive for you then you are in the realms of a POWERPOD or just simply training by heart rate.

Support through these partners – 10% off most purchases with code the5krunner10 at powermetercity.com, up to 17% off at wiggle for member and normally 10% off with REI members

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